re: "Do You Know" page 5

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American prisons have yards. I doubt that many prison yards have lawns, although I haven't been in one (knock wood).

Another pondian thing: I found it to be "touch wood" in the UK rather than "knock/knock on wood".

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
Same here in the USA. From M-W Online: Main Entry: ... road, apron, or runway Skitt (in Hayward, California) www.geocities.com/opus731/

Is US tarmac the same thing as "blacktop"?

I don't understand why you and Skitt and Merriam-Webster are implying that "tarmac" is some normal US word. As far as I know it is not; in daily life, I'd expect to hear "asphalt" or "pavement" or "blacktop". Airport runways (which are sort of international) are the only places I'd expect to find it at all. There, I would think it's the runways and any of the paved areas the planes taxi on.
I do see now that a federal airport security program called "Operation Tarmac" was started in 2002... I think the unusualness of the word, as well as its pleasant sound ("tar mak") would have contributed it to being chosen as a name.
But never anything like "We covered part of the back yard with tarmac so the children could play basketball." No unless that is some regionalism.

Best Donna Richoux
An American living in the Netherlands
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Is US tarmac the same thing as "blacktop"?

I don't understand why you and Skitt and Merriam-Webster are implying that "tarmac" is some normal US word. As far ... it at all. There, I would think it's the runways and any of the paved areas the planes taxi on.

We may have more varied experiences. I used to survey land at Travis Air Force Base for new taxiways and hardstands, and I also spent several summers doing grade-checking work for highway construction (there it was usually "blacktop", though. Maybe the first-mentioned job is where I heard it about fifty years ago, and I have known the word ever since.
I do see now that a federal airport security program called "Operation Tarmac" was started in 2002... I think the ... part of the back yard with tarmac so the children could play basketball." No unless that is some regionalism.

I'm sure that I have heard that too, but I don't know where. Construction workers' talk, possibly.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
I don't understand why you and Skitt and Merriam-Webster are implying that "tarmac" is some normal US word. As far ... it at all. There, I would think it's the runways and any of the paved areas the planes taxi on.

Googling on "tarmac site:.edu" to limit the search to US sites gets over 3,000 hits, but, yes, most do seem to be referring to airport runways. One early hit, though, is a definition that only mentions its use as a road surface:
http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~dgildea/cgi-bin/wn?tarmac.v
I do see now that a federal airport security program called "Operation Tarmac" was started in 2002... I think the ... part of the back yard with tarmac so the children could play basketball." No unless that is some regionalism.

Which, if any, of the following would be the most colloquial way of saying that in AmE, then?
1. We asphalted part of the back yard
2. We covered part of the back yard with asphalt
3. We tarred over part of the back yard.
4. We paved over part of the back yard with asphalt

(FWIW, it'd probably be No. 3 in BrE, or yes, it's been verbed "tarmacked".)

Ross Howard
Is US tarmac the same thing as "blacktop"?

I would say yes. Blacktop is a mix of tar and gravel. "Paved" is trickier. A road that has been blacktopped or that is made of poured concrete is considered a paved road. I would not want to use "paved" to mean "blacktopped", but I'm in the definite minority.
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Which, if any, of the following would be the most colloquial way of saying that in AmE, then? 1. We ... back yard with asphalt (FWIW, it'd probably be No. 3 in BrE, or yes, it's been verbed "tarmacked".)

A certain #4, and the "with asphalt" deleted. Never #3 since that would mean we just poured liquid tar over the surface. Tacky.

In Florida, you might see "We decked over part of the back yard". That could mean building a wooden deck or pouring a concrete deck. My back yard *is* partially decked. There's a pool back there, and the area around the pool that is poured concrete is called the deck or the pool deck.
Now, who in the world would put asphalt down in their back yard?
On 27 Feb 2004, Bob Cunningham wrote

snip

American prisons have yards. I doubt that many prison yards have lawns, although I haven't been in one (knock wood).

Another pondian thing: I found it to be "touch wood" in the UK rather than "knock/knock on wood".

Oh is that what that Phil Spector song is about? Right! DC
On 27 Feb 2004, Bob Cunningham wrote

snip

American prisons have yards. I doubt that many prison yards have lawns, although I haven't been in one (knock wood).

Another pondian thing: I found it to be "touch wood" in the UK rather than "knock/knock on wood".

I think you'll find it is always 'knock on wood' in the US. In Ireland and in the UK, as you say, it is simply 'touch wood'.

The accompanying hand gestures, if used, differ accordingly.
Charles Riggs
My email address: chriggs/at/eircom/dot/net
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I don't understand why you and Skitt and Merriam-Webster are implying that "tarmac" is some normal US word. As far as I know it is not; in daily life, I'd expect to hear "asphalt" or "pavement" or "blacktop".

I would too, and those are the words I'd use myself, but many people in the US say 'tarmac' in place of 'asphalt' or 'blacktop'.
Charles Riggs
My email address: chriggs/at/eircom/dot/net
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